Unite has demanded that takeaways and major fast food chains stop breaking the law and allow fast food couriers to use their toilets.
Unite has been contacted by several self-employed couriers who work via platforms such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats, who are concerned that they are increasingly being denied the right to use a toilet when collecting food from takeaways.
With public toilets closed due to the pandemic, drivers report having to urinate in bushes and that they have no proper method of cleaning their hands.
The drivers say that the takeaways,which include household names, are using the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse to prevent couriers from using their premises.
Unite has been running a long-term campaign highlighting the frequent lack of toilet dignity in the workplace.
As part of its campaign in November 2017, Unite secured a significant victory meaning that delivery drivers (and fast food couriers) now have the right to use the toilets of commercial customers (not the toilets of private householders) and hand washing facilities. A portaloo is not considered adequate and hot water should also be available.
Since the pandemic began Unite has had an increasing number of HGV delivery drivers report that they have been denied access to toilets.
Following lobbying from Unite, a letter jointly signed by Baroness Vere, the parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Transport, and Sarah Albon, the Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Executive, has been produced reminding businesses of their responsibilities and reassuring drivers they have a right to use a toilet when making a delivery.
The TUC has set up a direct link where workers can report safety breaches which includes the refusal to allow access to the toilet directly to the HSE by completing a simple form
Unite will name and shame employers who fail to follow the law and who refuse to act when issues are highlighted.
Unite national officer Adrian Jones said,“This is a serious public health matter.
“When the government’s key advice is to wash your hands it is alarming that takeaways are actively preventing drivers from doing this and then expecting them to deliver food to people’s homes.
“Takeaways and fast food outlets have got to stop taking the pee out of delivery drivers and instead ensure that they have access to toilets when they need them,” he added.
“The problem of a lack of access to toilets is not confined to fast food couriers; throughout the pandemic, delivery drivers have regularly reported that they have been denied access to toilets.
“After intense lobbying by Unite, the government is finally taking this issue seriously, and workers denied access to toilets should immediately report this to the HSE.
“Companies who refuse to provide will be named and shamed because their actions are risking the public’s health.”
By Barckley Sumner